Unpaid overtime, 100-hour weeks, instant dismissals … the pandemic has brought fresh momentum to the games industry’s union drive
Worker strikes, let alone successful ones, are vanishingly rare in the video games industry. But in August, writers at Lovestruck, a mobile app that publishes visual romance novels, went on a 21-day strike, accusing the company of unfair pay, and won a rates increase after owner Voltage initially dismissed their demands.
This is part of a growing, global unionisation movement among game developers – a movement whose urgency has been intensified by the pandemic, according to Declan Peach, who helped found the Game Workers Unite UK union in late 2018. With rising inquiries, casework and membership since lockdown, problems from the pandemic have brought growing momentum to the union. But dire conditions in the games industry had been driving developers to unionise long before coronavirus struck.